Lehigh University
Lehigh University


A show of power by electrical and computer engineers

Christopher O’Lone (left in foreground) and Basel Alnajjab (right) soldered more than 500 piecess for “Chesstastic,” which contains four lights and four sensors beneath each chessboard square as well as additional circuits, resistors and capacitors.

Circuit breakers and fuses enable engineers to detect and interrupt most power-line faults and restore normal electrical current flow. 

But high-impedance faults (HIFs) produce too little fault current to be detected with conventional methods and can dissipate massive amounts of heat, leading to equipment damage, outages and even fires.

Three engineering students have mathematically modeled and developed a device that uses a digital bandpass filter to measure and detect the unique harmonic properties that distinguish an HIF from other types of faults.

Steven Avena, Henry Luo and Jordan Thimot completed their project for ECE 257-258, a one-year, senior-level lab required of all electrical engineering and computer engineering majors. They received first prize in a poster presentation session April 27 that featured the work of 22 teams—45 students in all.

The class was taught by William Haller, professor of practice in the department of electrical and computer engineering, and Mooi Choo Chuah, associate professor of computer science and engineering.

Second prize in the contest went to Basel Alnajjab and Christopher O’Lone, who developed “Chesstastic,” a chessboard equipped with sensors, magnets and a microprocessor whose squares light up to show a player where he may move the piece he has lifted from the board and what enemy pieces he may capture.

Solar-powered savings and a universal remote

Earlier in April, at the IEEE Morton Student Paper Contest at Wilkes University, Alnajjab and O’Lone won first place and Avena, Luo and Thimot took third for the same projects.

The ECE 257-258 senior projects were supported by a grant from TE Connectivity with help from Charles Fry, a principal in the global company. The poster competition was judged by seven industry representatives.

After conducting research and reviewing the literature, Avena, Luo and Thimot isolated and compared the third and fifth harmonic of the HIF.

“The next step,” said Avena, “was developing a device capable of running our algorithms and alerting the utility. Our project was extremely work-intensive because we not only had to detect an HIF but model one as well.”

Alnajjab and O’Lone conducted a survey and learned that people preferred to play chess on a board and with another person rather than with a computer. Chesstastic plugs into a wall and costs significantly less than similar models that must be connected to a computer.

“Other countries are including chess in their school curriculums,” said O’Lone. “We think Chesstastic will appeal to kids because the squares light up. The board also shows check and checkmate and allows pawns to be queened.”

Also at the poster presentation, Marc Carrion and Christian Yoo demonstrated “Power Savers,” which instructs household appliances to switch from electrical to solar power when a sufficient amount of power is being generated by solar panels.

Michael Blades and Drew Terrell displayed a universal infrared remote control device that can be built into a smartphone and used to control a cable box, TV, sound system and other electronic appliances.

Photos 1, 2 and 3 by Ryan Hulvat


Story by Kurt Pfitzer

Posted on Wednesday, May 09, 2012

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